Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Real Old West

People who visit Arizona with a craving for some old west atmosphere tend to end up in places like Tombstone  to savor what the wild west must have been like.  However, there are lots of other towns in Arizona that have held on to the flavors of the west without all the tourist traffic.  Florence Arizona is one of those places.

The town of Florence has over 25 buildings listed on the National Historic Register and one of them is the beautiful Pinal County Courthouse.  Built in 1891, this three-story red brick building sits proudly in the heart of the city.  The architectural style is Late Victorian Revival that is topped like a wedding cake with an ornate clock tower.  The only problem is that when it was built, the city ran out of funds and  couldn't afford a working clock so the clock is painted on with the hands permanently showing the time at 11:44.  If you think of that positively, it's right on the money twice a day.

The courthouse has since been replaced by a modern facility on the edge of town but, this building is being restored to serve as government offices.

Main Street in Florence is a treat to explore with many old buildings constructed of adobe bricks still in use today.

The sidewalks are reminiscent of days long passed.

One might pass an antique store or an old saloon that still thrives to this day.  These buildings are all adobe walled and built in what was called Sonoran Style.  Some of them still have the viga and saguaro rib ceilings.

One place is the headquarters for the Rynning's Rangers, an all volunteer force that provides community service in the form of assistance to law enforcement and to keep alive history, tradition and heritage of the Arizona Territorial Rangers and the old west.

The local newspapers, the Florence Reminder and the Blade Tribune are located in this well-maintained historic house.

Most of the other homes in the central part of town are all constructed from adobe brick with a stucco covering and adorned with beautiful old doors and windows. 

Have you ever heard of a the silent film star named Tom Mix?  He was the handsome star of some 291 movies between 1909 and 1935.  In October of 1940, he was driving from Tucson to Phoenix in a 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton and was probably traveling well over the speed limit (if there was a speed limit at that time) when he lost control of the car and it overturned into a wash. He was killed in the accident that was located on a spot about 18 miles south of Florence.  Since then, a memorial to him has been located on the spot and a little roadside rest stop surrounds it. The inscription reads "In memory of Tom Mix, whose spirit left his body on this spot and whose characterizations and portrayals in life served to better fix memories of the old West in the minds of living men."
You won't see any theatrical gun fights or any stage coaches taking visitors for rides but, you will see a little slice of history and you can get a true sense of an old west town by visiting Florence Arizona.


Lowell said...

I remember Florence, but can't recall if I was ever there. Looks like a great place and what a plethora of photo opportunities which you, as usual, made good use of! (or "of which you made good use.") I do miss the old towns whether in the west or old west. Florida's "old" towns are generally not very old and usually lack the character of towns like this.

Thérèse said...

I am glad to have read the story of Tom Mix. Even if we went to Florence, I missed this part. The pictures are great, I don't remember this town to be so tidy but it is a long time ago, that must be it.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Florence looks beautifully maintained Sharon, I can't believe it has two newspapers, are they still in print? Is it a popular tourist destination? So many questions ☺

Lois said...

It is a pretty little town. I love the old courthouse and the clock tower even though the clock is just painted on! I've heard of Tom Mix too, but not the story of how he died. Interesting post Sharon!

Halcyon said...

What a fantastic tour through Florence. I love the old-timey feel. I bet this is popular for filming.

Catalyst said...

Florence is the home of multiple state and federal prisons. One of our granddaughters works as a detention officer (prison guard) at the state prison. And Tom Mix may not have been drunk but he had been drinking, just down the road at Oracle Junction and heavily the night before in Tucson. Just sayin'.

William Kendall said...

It certainly looks like a place at home in the West.